Nature Notebook – Ant Formic Acid

While pulling weeds I disturbed a colony of pavement ants. Instantly, a large number appeared in response to the “call to arms” smell released by the guard workers. They raced about looking for the intruder. A number of them found it…my sandaled foot.

The more aggressive defenders used their mandibles to grip my skin then inserted the stinger on their gaster (the ant equivalent of an abdomen). The insignificant would was then sprayed with formic acid. The chemical is sprayed or injected by most ants as a hunting or defensive weapon.

It definitely moved this intruder away.